6 Gym Lessons Everyone can Learn from Competitive Lifters
With the new year here there are inevitably some resolutions to be had at the gym. And setting new goals and getting back on track is awesome - but the ugly truth is that many resolutioners fail to meet their year long goals in the gym – which is often met with guilt and frustration, repeating itself year after year.
How can you make sure that this year you get on and stay on track at the gym and in the kitchen??
Let’s look to the most successful people and athletes in the fitness industry – competitive lifters – and how they manage to meet their fitness goals year in and year out.
On the fitness spectrum, competitive lifters are at the far end of fitness – they are beyond the “healthy” end, somewhere slightly off the deep end in their own little abyss. Whether it is powerlifting, weightlifting, crossfit, strongman or bodybuilding, these athletes constantly take their bodies to new heights and strengths.
Their dedication to their sport is often extreme – but so are their abilities and results. For much of the world, lifters seem to be a little “off.” And you have to be – these sports aren’t for the faint at heart.
Competitive lifting is not for everyone, but there are valuable everyday lessons to be found for the everyday gym goer and fitness enthusiast. From beginner to advanced, each of these lessons can help you find success in your own personal adventures.
Making a resolution/goal that is geared towards healthy change is always a great motivator. But how long will that motivation last?? A new year’s resolution doesn’t have the same sting and sparkle in June that it did in January. How can you make the change from a simple resolution in January to a sustainable lifestyle for the foreseeable future??
Let’s learn a few lessons from the competitive world and look at how they can help you get back in the gym for good and smash those resolutions. These are all important parts of the successful puzzle, so in no particular order, here we go…
1. The Gym isn’t a Disposable Activity
Going to the gym isn’t something that lifters do when they have some free time or if they can fit it in. They schedule training into their daily life and they go. Every time. It’s not a “if I feel like it” sort of deal. They have a set training schedule and they train according to it. There’s no “I’m not feeling it today” or “I’m tired” or “I’m busy.” They treat it like work and go to “work” week in and week out. No excuses. Consistency is SUCH a huge part of this whole process. No one ever achieved anything great by going some of the time, and an expendable attitude towards exercise is a big obstacle for many people. Set a schedule that fits your lifestyle and goals, put it in your routine, and get after it.
2. Find Your Fitness Passion
Talk to any competitive lifter and ask them why they compete in their sport. The answer is almost always because they love it. It’s something they ENJOY doing. And I think that’s a HUGE key to you finding success - this fitness thing can at times be a real grind, but if you LIKE what you do when you go to the gym, it will be that much easier to pull your socks up on those “hard” days and still go. There are tons of ways to get into shape. Find a style of training, a gym, a trainer, etc. that you think is awesome and run with it. Get good at it and find success with it and your time at the gym will feel less like work and be far more enjoyable.
At Xconditioning we have clients all the time that started as “resolutioners” and fell in love with our style of fitness and are now regular gym rats. I hear them talk about how “addicted” they feel to our gym – how they can’t or don’t want to miss a workout. And what better way to stay on track than if you’re itching to get to the gym everyday to throw down on a workout?
3. Set goals and Find Direction
There is NOTHING like an upcoming competition to bring the best out in a competitive lifter. Hard, focused training and that extra effort is always at the forefront of a competition prep. As I’ve mentioned before, sometimes these athletes takes things to the extreme, but even rookie gymrats can benefit from setting concrete goals with strict deadlines, or signing up for a competition like the Tough Mudder or Spartan Race.
An impending deadline is a great way to keep yourself motivated and hold yourself accountable. Do some searching and find a competition that fits your goals and your needs and SIGN UP FOR IT. Put your name on the line early on and DO IT and watch your training, commitment, and body reach new heights.
4. You Gotta Work for What You Want
Spend some time around competitive lifters and you’ll see they put in a lot of hard work. Li When they’re at the gym, they train with purpose and are focused. They push themselves to new heights and no matter what they are training for, they are constantly striving to be better. No one ever got really strong or into incredible shape from lackadaisical and inconsistent efforts. WORK ETHIC IS KEY.
Take it from the world’s best - you need to take pride in your time at the gym and work your tail off. Don’t be fooled by the infomercials - it takes A LOT of hard work for the body to progress and to change. There is no way around it. Big, strong, and/or very in shape people got that way not by accident, but because they EARNED it. Things do not happen quickly, and there will be setbacks. You will be sore. You will want to skip workouts. But if you go into this thing accepting that this road can be bumpy and is paved with sweat, elbow grease and some big old brass ones, then you will learn to love the challenges and you’re setting yourself up for success.
5. Team Up
There are very few competitive lifters that train alone – and if they do, it’s usually by necessity, not by choice. Most of the best lifters in the world all train in teams. Why? Support. Encouragement. Accountability. Intensity. Shared knowledge and experience. Someone to push you when you need it. These are just a few of the benefits of training around like-minded people and why so many successful people continue to experience success. There is something to be said about power in numbers.
Find someone that shares a similar mindset in terms of work ethic and goals and partner up. If you don’t know anyone like that, come try one of our classes and make a fast friend – it happens all the time. Hit the gym together and push each other. Share experiences and learn from each other’s successes and failures. Doing this fitness thing alone can be VERY challenging – increase your motivation and accountability through your training partner and you will both find consistency and success.
6. Eat with Purpose
Competitive lifters eat with purpose. They have a nutrition plan that is designed to meet their goals – and they stick to it. They don’t pan through life all willy-nilly, snacking on junk and eating whatever crap food comes in front of them. They don’t let excuses get in the way of a meal – they prepare food in advance and set themselves up for success, because food is a HUGE piece of this puzzle, and when you manage what you put in your body, you’re setting yourself up for success.
Competitive lifters educate themselves on nutrition, and you should too. Hire a nutrition coach or read literature on proper eating for fitness performance. Don’t waste your valuable time at the gym. Don’t let yourself think for a second that “I went to the gym so I can eat this or that…” That’s not how this works – you have to keep track of what you eat and hold yourself accountable – yes you will have to say no sometimes. There are 168 hours in a week and you spend 3-5 hours at the gym – that’s roughly 3% of your week!!!
Think about that – 97% of your success in the gym needs to be achieved out of it!!!
So there you have it – there are MANY lessons to be learned from the competitive fitness world, but these 6 are a HUGE piece of the puzzle, and when you find a way to adopt them into your plans and goals, you too can shake that “resolution” and turn it into a reality.
Have a Strong, Fit, and Happy New Year